Second straight semifinal showing pushes Pedregon up rankings DENVER (July 13) -- Former world champion Cruz Pedregon and crew chief Rahn Tobler's simpler approach to drag racing continues to pay dividends as Pedregon rode Tobler's basic tune-up...
Second straight semifinal showing pushes Pedregon up rankings
DENVER (July 13) -- Former world champion Cruz Pedregon and crew chief Rahn Tobler's simpler approach to drag racing continues to pay dividends as Pedregon rode Tobler's basic tune-up to his second straight final-four finish Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.
As the Advance Auto Parts Toyota Solara becomes a steady racecar once again, 27-time national event winner Pedregon is making his way back up the POWERade rankings. He passed 14-time champion John Force Sunday to regain a footing in the top five and suddenly finds himself just two rounds out of second place.
"When Rahn made the decision to go back to the early set-up we had used it completely turned our team around and it shows," Pedregon said. "He's familiar with this set-up and able to make good decisions on the fly. The car performed great all weekend. I made seven passes and pulled the chutes seven times, which is rare in this thin air on the mountain."
Pedregon was consistent in qualifying, running the first race in NHRA history with a 1,000-foot finish line like he'd been doing it his whole life. He posted, in order, a 4.414, 4.237, 4.312, and a 4.227 at 296.50 mph to qualify No. 3 in the elimination field.
On Sunday, Pedregon opened with a 4.293 at 284.62 mph to beat Jerry Toliver (4.648) and then removed Toliver's teammate Ron Capps with a 4.388 at 276.18 mph to Capps' resigned 5.330 at 143.69 mph.
In the semifinals, Pedregon got a huge jump on opponent "Fast Jack" Beckman, leaving in .028 seconds to Beckman's .069-second start, but engine trouble on the Advance Auto Parts Solara spelled doom for Pedregon as Beckman was able to catch and pass him to win with a 4.334 at 290.82 mph to Pedregon's 4.474 at 278.46 mph.
"We started up the engine and the No. 5 cylinder was popping and blowing raw fuel," Pedregon said. "It felt normal, but as soon as I hit the throttle against Beckman I knew I was in trouble. I stayed with him most of the way down the track just hoping I could hold on but it was like fighting with one hand behind my back. It was a really tough break for us.
"Even so, my team really came through and has been performing great. This is our second semifinal in a row and it means a lot. I woke up this morning and honestly felt like it was my day. The car has been running great, and it just felt good. There are five races left until the Countdown cutoff, so strong finishes like these are exactly what we need to solidify our position."